Leading by Example: WSU Presdent Slashes His Wage

The Republican economy has driven states, counties and cities to the brink of bankruptcy.  In Washington the state budget is predicted to be up to $5.1 billion in the red.  To get the budget in balance the Governor has directed the state Office of Financial Management to find ways to slash the state budget without cutting services.  In October Washington State University (WSU)was asked to cut $6 million from its $254 million budget by June 30.  In response to the WSU President Elson S. Floyd asked the regents to cut his pay as part of the university's efforts to slash its budget.  Floyd requested a $100,000 cut in pay.

The Republican economy has driven states, counties and cities to the brink of bankruptcy. In Washington the state budget is predicted to be up to $5.1 billion in the red. To get the budget in balance the Governor has directed the state Office of Financial Management to find ways to slash the state budget without cutting services. In October Washington State University (WSU)was asked to cut $6 million from its $254 million budget by June 30. In response to the WSU President Elson S. Floyd asked the regents to cut his pay as part of the university's efforts to slash its budget. Floyd requested a $100,000 cut in pay.

Floyd's 14% pay reduction was made because: "These are exceedingly tough times for my students, faculty and staff. We will be asking them to think more creatively and work harder with less as we deal with budgetary restraints. It is incumbent upon me to lead by example."

Imagine that...leading by example.  It should be done by more of our "leaders".  Leaders in finance, industry, and government need to lead by example.  They are rewarded when they "lead" in good times with higher wages, stock options, deferred compensation and other perks.  They should be equally willing to lead by example when the companies, agencies and other sectors of our economy are suffering.  They should share the pain.

I met Elson Floyd briefly last year shortly after he assumed leadership of Washington State University.  I was at a football game and he was working the crowd.  He went row by row, introducing himself to the fans and thanking them for supporting the football program and the university.  I was impressed by his outreach then and now I am even more impressed with his understanding of the role of a leader in times of stress.  

For more on Floyd's unique example of leadership you can read the article in an area newspaper at: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/...

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Despite recent grain crash, long term food $$ is on the rise

The contrarian in me is screaming that Reuters' recent piece on food prices is the food inflation equivalent to Businessweek's famous "Stocks are dead" headline from a 1982 issue.  Yet another piece is whispering in my hear "baby, it ain't over yet!" 

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What part of "worker exploitation" don't you understand?

If you're like me, you've had it up to here with the refrain of "what part of illegal don't you understand" from right-wingers trying to use the immigration debate to distract hard-working Americans from the structural reasons behind their ongoing economic woes.  

Rather than running scared from this simple-minded chorus of xenophobia, it's high time progressives stood up and called a spade a spade.  Allowing immigration status to be used as an excuse to exploit workers is not only morally wrong, it's bad for other workers.  Standing by while hundreds of working parents are rounded up like cattle, separated from their children, and detained for days to weeks without regard for due process is not only cowardly, it's un-American.

Instead of tolerating the completely impractical solution of deporting 14 million undocumented immigrants, we need to come up with practical plans for integrating them into our society and helping them continue contributing to a national economy that they are already propping up.  In the meantime, we need to make sure that the hysterical calls for cracking down on "illegal" immigrants doesn't continue to victimize the very same class of "legal" workers that the crack-down is putatively intended to protect.

Fortunately, a few enlightened state leaders in Iowa are taking some moderate but laudable steps toward achieving this agenda.

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Krugman on Trade Battle

   Paul Krugman's recent op-ed, Divided over Trade in the NY Times is worth reading.  Our trade agreements have hurt American wages, however, returning to pre-NAFTA days might make things worse not better.  His suggestion that corrective action might better focus on non-trade issues, for example: "Universal health care, paid for by taxing the economy's winners, would be a good place to start" might be worthy of consideration. It sure beats the hell out of starting a circular firing squad inside the Democratic Party in my opinion.  

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Employment for Black America

   Bob Herbert writes about the employment problem facing black America and suggests more education needed, as have choruses of others before him.  I suggest this is less than a satisfactory answer.  Jobs aplenty that do not pay a living wage are no answer to black America's problem...or white America's either. Black Americans are painfully aware of what a society with plenty of jobs that do not pay enough looks like: its slavery.  An American employment profile that has at its base a large segment of its population living from hand to mouth, without job security, healthcare, prospects of homeownership, or recreational opportunities is a society little changed from that of ancient Greece, Rome...or colonial America in the South.  
    Men working for subsistence wages without hope of bettering themselves are slaves...that technically they are wage slaves is of little existential comfort to them.  I submit that any effort to increase the employability of blacks or any group of Americans that does not address the disproportional distribution of the fruits of employment is, in essence, putting a Band-Aid on a tumor.  The rapidly growing gulf between the rich and poor in America is not an employment issue, it is a cancer on our culture that can destroy our nation.  The hard reality of history is that men obey laws when obeying is in their best interest and cease to obey them when it isn't.  Lincoln said a house divided against itself cannot stand.  The division of our house today is not race but economic class, nevertheless Lincoln, I think, is still right.  A nation that does not share its wealth fairly among those who produce that wealth is a nation heading toward chaos and tragedy.

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